2021 -2022 Competition Themes


SEPTEMBER 2021   Good Deed(s)

Open to photographer interpretation


OCTOBER 2021   Close two shot

In film parlance a “two shot” is short for “medium two shot” in which two people are shown from head to knees or closer, and you can see both their faces; a “close two shot” is a close-up with primarily two people’s heads in the frame, often to show two people kissing, or to show moments of great dramatic tension. For this competition, images showing the subjects’ emotion, or images that evoke an emotional response from the viewer, are on point.

Example sources: 1st row - 12 Years a Slave, Whale Rider; 2nd row - Rear Window, Minority Report




NOVEMBER 2021   Backlit

The subject in the photo is primarily illuminated with light from any angle behind the subject; it is not necessary (but ok) for the subject to be in silhouette—and minor front illumination from any angle is also permitted.

NOTE:  if the sun or some other light source is shining brightly on the camera-side of your subject while something bright is also happening behind the subject, your image will be disqualified.

NOTE: Some examples in the web resources below show as much or more front-lighting than back-lighting; in this  competition only minor front-lighting is permitted.







JANUARY 2022   Wabi-sabi

If you’ve read Kakuzo Okakura’s Book of Tea, you’ve read about wabi-sabi, even though that term never appears in it. In a nutshell three statements give us a start:

            • Wabi-sabi is the beauty of things imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete.

            • It is a beauty of things modest and humble.

            • It is a beauty of things unconventional

In Wabi-Sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets, & Philosophers, Leonard Koren notes the Japanese terms wabi and sabi have very different meanings: wabi refers in part to a way of life or spiritual path, to what is inward, subjective, and can also relate to spatial events; sabi refers to material objects, art, and literature, to what is outward, to aesthetic ideals, to temporal events.

Koren offers helpful characteristics of wabi-sabi one can keep in mind when shooting:


            • exists in a private rather than public domain

            • implies an intuitive worldview

            • sees things as relative rather than absolute

            • romanticizes nature

            • relates to organic organization of form (soft, vague shapes and edges)

            • may use a bowl as a metaphor – free shape, open at the top (but not

                        saying a bowl needs to be in image photo)

            • objects are formed from crude and/or natural materials

            • view is that corrosion or contamination makes its expression richer

            • is comfortable with ambiguity and contradiction

Needless to say we’ll need a judge who can also keep these things in mind…

Resources: Leonard Koren: Wabi-sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets, & Philosophers; Imperfect Publishing, 2008

                 Leonard Koren: Wabi-Sabi: Further Thoughts; Imperfect Publishing, 2015



FEBRUARY 2022   Shoot through

“Shoot through” can refer your subject being partially occluded by an intervening out-of-focus element that creates a diaphanous foreground element for your subject. It can also refer to shooting through a transparent or semi-transparent foreground element to your subject: if the object is flat it may merge a reflected image into your shot, or if not flat, may distort your subject.



(NOTE: the smaller photographs occupying the top portion of the page opened by the above link are NOT representative of our competition theme--keep scrolling down to get to the larger photographs which ARE representative of "shoot through" for our purposes. In particular, "framing," that is, placing sharply focused foreground images which frame or stand in front of the subject ARE NOT APPROPRIATE for this competition--the larger photographs mentioned in this note will show you exactly what this competition is all about. My apologies if my previous lack of clarification of this point has set you off on the wrong track; c'mon back! Dean;-)



MARCH 2022   Out to pasture

Open to photographer interpretation


APRIL 2022   Heavy metal

Open to photographer interpretation


May 2022 Blur and Flash  [many thanks Arvid Bloom for technical improvements to this description]

Blur and Flash is about taking low-light or night shots with slow shutter speeds while also employing a flash. You allow the camera shutter to remain open before firing a flash—automatically or manually—just before the shutter closes. The result is a beautiful blur of your subject, finishing with the subject tack-sharp, set by the flash going off. With focal plane shutters, this technique is often called rear-curtain flash; with leaf or electronic shutters, it's often called rear-sync flash. Selecting one of these flash options usually involves a simple change within a camera's settings menu.





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